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majority of these men reside on shore; and the idea is that only about 10,000 men, women, and children make their permanent homes on board boats and barges. Though cramped up in little cabins, in which the parents cannot always stand upright, and in which decency seems difficnlt, barge life offers singular advantages to pastoral visitation. People living afloat are generally to be found at home, and sufficiently isolated to welcome a visitor. Moreover, when their floating homes happen to be at a distance from friends, a yet more complete isolation makes the visitor's call especially acceptable. The fact that the outward circumstances of life are somewhat different from the rest of the world, makes any specially devout habits less remarkable, and less open, therefore, to the social disabilities that holy living sometimes brings upon the poor. Daily family worship is, e.g., a comparatively easy matter on board barges. Solitude for reading and devout meditation has its bome there. And, in short, that portion of personal religion which is independent of the public means of grace, has, to the willing heart, special freedom on board barges. But, “how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed ? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without a preacher ? and how shall they preach except they be sent?”
Every well-worked parish has its band of lay helpers : some acting as district visitors ; others as Sunday-school teachers ; others as conductors of mission services; and others going out “into the highways and hedges," or“ into the streets and lanes of the city” to compel people to come in so that God's house may be full. Why should not similar parochial agency be extended to canals, where a wharf exists in the parish ?
At the more crowded stations, such as the Regent's Canal Dock, the City Road Bason, the Paddington Wharves, the Surrey Canal, the Hull Docks, &c., let a canal curate be attached to a church willing to “entertain strangers,” and have the support of a parochial organisation. He may possibly require the use of a boat to cross over from wharf to wharf; and of a room on the banks to receive the children for religious instruction. At less important points, let the parochial clergy have on their staff a canal scripture reader, to spend his life in bringing the canal folk under the ordinary ministrations of religion. And, wherever wharves are found for loading or unloading the ones and twos, let the lay helpers of the parish include amongst their body barge visitors, barge teachers, barge missioners, and those who will endeavour to “compel” boatmen and their families to attend the public means of grace.
It is not so much new methods, much less a new religion, that is wanted for those who reside afloat, as a common sense adaptation of the old methods to this not altogether new purpose. The one great difficulty in thus securing for boatmen and their families a share in the parochial heritage received from our forefathers, arises within the church edifice itself. It is of little use bringing people to the church doors, until some arrangement is made for making them welcome within. If the cold shoulder of the pew-closer is to be his only welcome to God's house, all our discussions over the absence of boatmen from the means of grace is sheer hypocrisy. Sweep pride and selfishness from our church-sittings, and appoint some of the communicants to “entertain strangers” as they appear at the church doors, and to attend them to suitable seats, furnishing them with prayer and hymn-books, and showing them where to find the places therein. Till the spirit of kindness and attention to such “strangers” is fostered in our churches, there will be many more “strangers” to their services than the long-neglected boatmen on canals.
Oh! that God would heal "our unhappy divisions,” and “take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord”-then might the zeal now employed upon “foolish and unlearned questions which gender strifes,” the ingenuity developed in mutual suspicions and party rancours, and the energies wickedly wasted in biting and devouring one another, be united in more Christ-like activities; and then might the now grieved Holy Spirit, the God of “ love, joy, and peace,” return and breathe once again into His people such a love for perishing souls around as was in a humbled lay helper of the ancient Church when he wrote : "Oh give me the comfort of Thy help again, and stablish me with Thy free Spirit; then sball I teach Thy ways unto the wicked, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.”
The Rev. T. W. CARR, M.A., Rector of Barming, Kent. I ONLY wish to give an illustration which is drawn forth by the interesting paper of Commander Dawson, and which is due, I think, to the barge people on the capals. I have myself a parish which is just a mile along the river Medway. I have not, I am sorry to say, done anything with the people of the barges which pass up and down, nor was I aware of the particular work upon the Medway to which he has referred; but I remember a little incident, which I have no doubt was the effect of some of that work, and I am sure it will interest those who hear it. I was standing by the river (not following my calling, for I had a fishing-rod in my hand), and was sheltered by some bushes from the river, when, presently, upon the other side, which was the towing. path, a horse came by with the rope of a barge, from which I heard the sound of voices. The sounds that come from a barge are not always agreeable in regard to the language, but upon this occasion, to my surprise, I heard the words of the Creed just before the barge swept past me. I was then quite out of their sight, but saw a woman steering the barge, with a little boy seated in front of her, to whom she was teaching the words of the Creed. Perhaps that may have been some fruit of the work of the reader to whom Commander Dawson referred.
The Rev. R. Morrison HERDMAN, Association Secretary of
Missions to Seamen.
The fact of our gathering here this evening shows that we as a Church are conscious of having neglected the floating population on the canals, but it shows also that as a Church we are now, as it were, becoming alive to our responsibilities, else why are we introducing such a subject as this to our Church Congress ? The parochial system, from a combination of causes, has failed in the case of our bargemen, as it has failed in the case of our seamen. The whole discussion of the subject is based on the failure of the means that have hitherto been employed, and the operations hitherto carried on. We cannot suppose that the clergy, through whose parishes the different canals flow, are in any way less diligent in the discharge of their duties, or less watchful for the souls of men, than their neighbours. It seems, therefore, that we must trace the lamentable condition of the residents in barges to a defect in our organisation. A canal is not merely a part of a parish, but parts of many parishes. While the barge people are in a clergyman's parish he may, if his ordinary parochial duties will allow him to do so, visit them, but the moment they have crossed the bounds of his parish, they are no longer his parishioners, and he cannot officiate among them. The better part of the existence of the inhabitants of the barges is spent, not at wharves and quays, but on voyages. To-day they are in the parish, to-morrow they may be in another miles away. To what parish do they belong? The only rational conclusion is, that they require a special agency-an agency which will be willing to rough it, and to rough it amongst the roughest of the rough. I remember when I was ordained by the Right Rev. Prelate who rules this diocese, hearing a remark from his son, who is now occupying the place where one of the latest martyrs of our Church-namely, Bishop Pattison-met his death and won his crown. I remember hearing a remark from that son, a short time before he left this diocese and also this country, to this effect. He said—“The first remembrance I have of my father is one stormy night, among the islands of the Pacific, coming up from the cabin, and seeing him dressed in a rough pilot jacket and a sou’-wester.” I felt at that time, and I feel now, that if we wish to have men to do effectual work among our bargemen they must be something like our worthy Bishop, men who are willing to be roughly clad, and ready to go out and work among the men where the men are to be found. Our Bishop has set us a noble example an example which the chaplains of the Society “Missions to Seamen ” are now following in the roadsteads, docks and rivers around our coast, as, going out rough men among the rough they take to the perishing mariner that message which our Blessed Lord was so willing, nay, loved to take to the very poorest of the poor. When Christ came among men the Rabbis were seeking for learned congregations; but what did He do? away He went down into the alleys of the Temple City, into the streets of the provincial towns, away into the homes of the poor villagers, and into the boats of the toiling fishermen, yea, wherever He could find the “sheep without a shepherd " thither He went and spoke to them the words of life; and what was the result? Christ first sought the people, then the people sought Him; and after that they began to follow Him, and at length they even went before Him to where they thought He would be, and they were, as we find, benefitted by His teaching. We must be more willing to seek the barge people. Manifestly if any good is to be done among them, it can only be done by men expressly set apart for that special work. The work should not be left to hinge upon accident, but should be prosecuted on a pre-arranged and settled plan. I see from the October number of the Word on the Waters which I hold in my hand, that Bishop Selwyn recommends a staff of “clergymen living upon the canals to follow the barges, and baptize and teach the children, and humanise, nay, christianise the parents on board.” Let the Church employ such a special agency; let her not merely talk about it: let her not stand upon the order of her doing, but do it at once, and these loving earnest men, specially set apart in the different dioceses where the bargemen are to be found working faithfully in their appointed sphere-will, we believe, receive the blessing of the Saviour-the Worker among the poor and be instrumental in bringing into the heavenly fold many of the long scattered, wandering, and lost ones on the canals.
Our Bishop has struck the key-note, let us respond to it and send out men among bargemen as the Society “Missions to Seamen” sends them among sailors, and then I fancy the long neglected and difficult problem will be speedily solved.
The Rev. J. GOTT, D.D., VICAR of LEEDS. I HAVE a very great interest in this work, as I was for five years chaplain to the Wherryman's Mission at Yarmouth, where the five rivers wbich water the whole of Norfolk and Suffolk enter the sea. When I went there in 1857, a floating town of 2000 souls was living without either church or home. As an illustration of their character I remember, after a long visit I had paid to a barge, which had given me an opportunity of speaking to the owner's heart, his way of showing his appreciation was by sending me a hare which he poached as he came down the river. A brother curate, Mr Pellew, a name famous on the water, began to preach on the river on Sunday afternoons, or any fine summer evening. Early in November, when winter closed in, he obtained the loan of a sail-loft from a merchant on the quay, and when he broke dowo, the Mission among the River Population was put into my hands. We opened a Sunday school, and the police sent us all the children who were beyond their management. At length we finished our church, to which we gradually added an institute and a Sunday school ; a lady gave a boat, which passed from barge to barge, and was often weeks together up the river. We had a scripture reader, a young sailor, who had lost his leg at sea ; and when I applied to the Additional Curates' Society for a curate, they replied that I was beyond their field of action. The heart of their secretary was so touched that he gave me £15 a year out of his own pocket, and persuaded one of his friends to double it. I had 156 church-workers among the people, for besides my wherrymen I had 5000 people on land, who lived along the river banks. As time wore on, a public-house of the worst character was given to us. It was the chief rendezvous in Yarmouth for gamblers and smugglers, and at least one murder and a suicide had been committed within its walls; its licence had been forfeited, and it was put into our hands to white-wash. So the work went on until Sunday labour almost ceased, and drinking and swearing became rare. The church was so crowded that it usually held 700 on a Sunday evening, although only seated for 500; and I remember one bright evening when the crowd, unable to enter the church, remained outside with their hats off, and their prayer-books open, throughout the service, and contributed a good share to the offertory, when the plate was handed half across the street. At an Additional Curates' Meeting in Kent the deputation described the scene I have been describing to you. The result was that a clergyman of Gravesend hired a public-house where he held services; a boat was given to him, in which he visited the Thames barges as they passed up and down the river; he built a church which he called St Andrew's, after ours at Yarmouth. Presently a merchant from China, who had made a fortune, came and settled there, and was so struck with the work that he was ordained, and afterwards became vicar of that parish ; he brought the work to a most successful issue, and the last time I saw him he told me that a brother merchant whom he had known in China, had come to spend a few days with him, and had been so pleased at the work that was going on, that he asked his friend to receive £100 a year as his contribution to the work. We have only, then, to put our shoulders heartily and prayerfully to this work among our barges, and it will bear fruit on every river and canal, and contribute no small blessing to the welfare of the National Church.
The Rev. T. TOMLINSON. I HAVE just one suggestion to make, and I make it now, because I think there are others who may be able to carry it out far better than I can myself. I firmly believe, from what little I know of the population on our canals, that our only hope is with the children, and the suggestion which I wish to make, and which I intend to try and carry into effect in my own parish is this, to get the children from these boats, and put them in a school in the village. I hope to obtain some suitable house where they can be boarded, perhaps a barn, or a cottage, or something of that sort, furnish it roughly, get a matron or a master to look after the children, and then, if practicable, send them to our parochial schools. I have been talking to some of the boatmen about it, and I believe they would give up their children for this purpose, at least some of them would. I understand that there are in one of the canals which traverses my parish, no less than 500 children passing backwards and forwards during the year, who live altogether upon the boats, and I thought it very practicable in this way to get hold of some of the children. I mention this here, that this suggestion may be taken up by others, and carried into effect in other parts of England far better than I can do it. I believe the only hope is with the children.
WEDNESDAY MORNING, 6th OCTOBER.
The Right Rev. the PRESIDENT took the Chair, in the Congress
Hall, at a Quarter-past Ten.
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS : PUPIL
TEACHERS: THE CHURCH AND SCHOOL BOARDS.
The Rev. W. J. KENNEDY, M.A., Inspector of Schools
I PROCEED, according to the request made to me, to read a paper on Religious Education in Elementary Schools. The subject cannot be adequately treated in the time allowed, and I must try to use much compression. But compression causes one to speak with fewer qualifications, and with more appearance of dogmatism, than is desirable ; also, one runs great risk of being misunderstood.
I desire to guard myself, also, by another remark, viz., that when I may have to speak of producing any good religious result by human means, God's help is always understood as needful, for “except the Lord build the house their labour is but lost that build it."
Religious instruction may be classed under two heads; one relates to the teaching of the brain through books; the other to teaching the heart by example and practice.
And first I will say a few words on the former head-on the brain teaching, and the curriculum of book teaching in our elementary schools. I fear that in many schools a better syllabus is needed both for scholars and pupil-teachers. We ought never to forget that time—the time we have for the work — is an important element in determining what we shall teach and what books we should use. Looking to the short time during which we have hold of our scholars and pupil-teachers, and the short time each day which can be given to religious knowledge, and looking to all which we might desire to teach thoroughly, viz., the Bible, the prayer-book, Church history, and all that is collaterally involved in such teaching, we are bound to make up our minds from the first, that very much which we should like to teach must be omitted from